TAMPA — Military, police and firefighters feel especially welcome at the Bad Monkey Bar.
"First responders are an under-represented audience in the Ybor demographic," said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Dave Scott, a tireless promoter of the historic Latin community.
He and co-owner Charlie Allen (who also co-owns the popular Patio bar in Palma Ceia) merged a former Seventh Avenue cigar bar and a tattoo parlor to create Bad Monkey Bar a few blocks east of Centro Ybor.
Camouflage walls, a P-40 Warhawk nose cone bearing Scott's name and beer taps made from brass howitzer shells set the military tone. Scott served 36 years in the Air Force, the last 27 as a special operations pilot. Both of Allen's parents served in the armed forces.
Since the May 23 opening, veterans quickly discovered the bar welcomes charity events, Scott said. To encourage groups, dual spigots on the artillery shells can be "owned" for the night. "We weigh the keg before you drink, about a pound a pint," he said. "You self serve, we weigh it when you're done and charge for what was consumed."
No food is served — just a dozen beers on draft, wine and full liquor bar. Numerous neighboring restaurants make it simple to grab dinner to eat there.
Pointing up to a loft area, dubbed the Talibar Lounge, Scott offered the space for private business meetings. "We can cover the pool table and hook you up with Wi-Fi and a computer."
Besides broadcasting sports events, the eight televisions can be programmed for video presentations. During a serviceman's retirement party, a friend Skyped greetings from Afghanistan.
Scott, 57, stationed at MacDill Air Force Base after stints in Iraq and Afghanistan, retired in 2009.
"I needed to find my place to engage," said Scott, "and Ybor City is so unappreciated. Our goal is to reverse that."
To that end, he and his wife, Jill, bought the Hoffman-Porges art gallery and an interest in the Laughing Cat restaurant. He took on the chairmanship of Ybor City Economic Development Committee and the Adamo Drive Mural Project.
By the way, the bar's name comes from a Navy SEAL call sign and not those bad monkeys seen cavorting in the painting near the window.
The Bad Monkey Bar, 1717 E Seventh Ave., is open from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 3 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visit badmonkey ybor.com or call (813) 280-9971.
Textured, touchable art
Tampa newcomer Michelle Hinz paints customer dreams and color schemes in thickly textured, "tactile and touchable" dimensional acrylic paintings. For her signature collection, she uses five to seven layers of paint a quarter-inch thick.
The artwork, composed of segments on a grid, is inspired by textures in the environment, said the home decor artist. Hinz licenses her work to agencies to reproduce for such large retailers as Home Goods, Pier 1 and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Hinz markets the originals at the showroom and studio she opened June 4 on MacDill Avenue, north of Bay to Bay Boulevard. Prices range from $20 to $2,000, "keeping with mainstream appeal to consumers looking to coordinate art with furnishings."
Hinz focuses on "peaceful, Midwest earth tones" featured in three collections: Resin, finished with glasslike topcoat equal to 50 coats of varnish; Textile, fabric collages protected and illuminated by a resin topcoat; and Hybrid, as it sounds, a combination of flat and textured paint.
Hinz and her husband, a computer consultant, had never been to Tampa before deciding to move here and open a decorative arts gallery. "We did lots of research and we love it," Hinz said.
The grand opening is set for June 30, with workshops for beginners to skilled artists to follow.
Michelle Hinz Art Gallery, 2408 S MacDill Ave., is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. See her work on the Facebook page Michelle Hinz Art Gallery, and michellehinz.com or call (813) 839-8317.
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